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How is Truck Accident Compensation and Liability Determined?

— October 14, 2022

If a manufacturer notices a default in a particular batch of vehicles, they must issue a recall or they may be liable in case an accident occurs.

Commercial truck crashes can be some of the most severe and deadly accidents on the road. When a tractor-trailer, big rig, or commercial vehicle faces an accident, the results can be catastrophic.

You may wonder how to determine compensation and liability if you get injuries in a truck accident. Determining truck accident compensation and liability depends on assessing the driver’s negligence alongside the trucking company’s and manufacturer’s liability.

Truck Driver’s Negligence

The law holds truck drivers to a higher standard than other drivers on the road. They must obtain a commercial driver’s license and follow strict hours of service regulations.

When truck drivers break the law or fail to adhere to industry standards, the law holds them liable for an accident. These drivers must meet higher standards because they operate large, heavy vehicles that can cause serious damage.

According to a report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 32% of fatal accidents in the United States were a result of drivers’ errors. The most common driver error that led to fatal accidents was speeding. Other leading causes of truck accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Fatigue
  • Reckless driving
  • Tailgating

A truck accident lawyer from New Orleans can help you investigate the accident and gather evidence to prove the truck driver’s negligence. If proven that the truck driver was negligent in causing the accident, they become liable for any damages. This includes medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Trucking Company’s Liability

The trucking company that employs the driver can also be liable for accidents. The company is expected to hire safe, qualified drivers and adequately maintain their vehicles. If the company does not properly screen or train the driver, they may be responsible should an accident occur.

Additionally, if the company did not properly maintain the truck and the lack of care led to an accident, they may also be liable. The company should ensure regular inspection and timely repair of the vehicle.

Trucking companies are also required to follow federal regulations. They are liable if they violate these regulations and it leads to an accident. Some federal regulations that trucking companies must follow include:

  • Hours of service
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Driver screening and training requirements

Some companies place the role of maintenance and inspection on the drivers. Thus, the drivers must complete these tasks before setting out on their route. This can be a dangerous practice as it puts the responsibility on the driver to ensure that the vehicle is safe.

Trucks in mechanics bays for service; image by Carlos Daniel, via
Trucks in mechanics bays for service; image by Carlos Daniel, via

The company may be held responsible if an accident occurs and the court establishes that the company did not maintain its vehicles well. In this case, the driver must prove that the accident did not occur due to their negligence.

Vehicle Manufacturer’s Liability

In some accidents, the vehicle manufacturer is liable if a defect in the design or manufacture led to the accident. An example of this would be if there were a problem with the brakes that caused the accident. If proven that the manufacturer was aware of the defect and did not take steps to fix it, they may be held liable.

The law requires that manufacturers design and produce all vehicles to meet specific safety standards. For instance, all vehicles must have working brakes, signal lights, and seat belts.

Manufacturers are also liable if they fail to meet these standards and an accident occurs. If a manufacturer notices a default in a particular batch of vehicles, they must issue a recall or they may be liable in case an accident occurs.

A Lawyer Can Help Identify the Liable Party

Determining who is at fault in a truck accident can be a complex issue. Many parties can be liable, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and the vehicle manufacturer. If you’re involved in a truck accident, you must speak with an experienced lawyer who can help you investigate the accident and determine who is at fault.

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